WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- U.S. House Republican leaders said Tuesday they will introduce legislation to postpone the individual mandate component of the Affordable Care Act.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters on Capitol Hill the leadership plans to push for legislation to enact into law a one-year postponement of the law's employer mandate, announced last week by the administration. He said Congress would then vote on postponing the individual mandate, arguing it is only fair to give individuals the same delay the White House extended to business.
The administration said July 2 it would delay the employers' mandate to give companies more time to comply with the new rules. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the delay shows the White House "has finally recognized the obvious -- employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate."
Administration officials said other elements of the ACA -- commonly known as Obamacare -- will not be delayed, and analysts said the delay is likely to result in more people buying individual healthcare coverage through the insurance exchanges created in the new law, with open enrollment beginning Oct. 1.
The New York Times said Republicans -- who met privately with Boehner Tuesday -- calculate Democrats will vote to support the employers' mandate delay but will then be in a difficult political spot when a vote comes up on delaying the individual mandate.
"Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his healthcare law's mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it's not fair," Boehner told Republicans.
Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the GOP rationale is absurd, noting Republicans typically "hug big business while leaving the American people out in the cold."
House Republican leaders in April called off a vote on a bill to modify the Affordable Care Act amid resistance from GOP hard-liners who only wanted to vote on repealing the law.
The bill would have transfer funds from a preventative disease account to create high-risk pools for sick Americans, but House conservatives criticized the leadership for pushing a bill that would change, but not eliminate, the ACA.